Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Public Works Office [Bombay].--Photographer: Bourne and Shepherd Medium: Photographic print Date: 1870

Photograph of the Public Works Department building in Bombay (Mumbai), taken by Bourne and Shepherd in the 1870s, and part of 40 prints by various photographers, mostly dating from the 1860s. It was completed in 1872, built in the Venetian Gothic style to the designs of Colonel Henry St Clair Wilkins, and is seen here shortly after completion. The capital of Maharashtra and one of India's major industrial centres and a busy port, Bombay, was originally the site of seven islands on the west coast, sparsely populated by Koli fisherfolk. Bombay was by the 14th century controlled by the Gujarat Sultanate who ceded it to the Portuguese in the 16th century. In 1661 it passed to the English as part of the dowry brought to Charles II by the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza. By the 19th century Bombay was a prosperous centre for maritime trade. In the second half of the 19th century Bombay, with its economic boom resulting as a consequence of the American Civil War, witnessed a spurt in construction of buildings, particularly with public architecture. The grand buildings were designed to convey the power and stability of empire. The removal of the fortifications of the city opened up the civic facade for architecture and a clutch of buildings were designed, mostly looking to Gothic revival forms.

Public Works Office [Bombay].

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